Healthy Pregnancy Lengths Surprisingly Vary

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The length of healthy pregnancies can change by five weeks, despite doctors accurately figuring the conception date, says a recent study.

Though healthy pregnancy lengths vary, part of the discrepancy was believed to be because of errors in figuring the baby’s age, said researchers.

The research accurately pinpoints conception day by examining urine specimens from 125 females who were attempting to conceive early in the 1980s. Differences in the urine’s hormone levels were utilized to figure the ovulation date, assumed as the day of conception, in addition to when the embryo was embedded in the uterus.

In general, pregnancies went 38 weeks from conception day to the baby’s birth, or approximately 40 to 41 weeks after the date of the female’s latest menstruation.

However, despite omitting children who were premature, pregnancy length varied from roughly 35 to 40 weeks from conception day to the baby’s birth (or approximately 38 to 43 weeks from when the women last menstruated.)

The scientists were amazed to see this much variation despite accurate determinations about the conception day, stated researcher Dr. Anne Marie Jukic from the Epidemiology Branch at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Durham, N.C.

The conclusions propose that giving women an accurate due date isn’t necessarily the greatest way to convey pregnancy duration. Approximately 4 percent of expectants deliver specifically on their given date, and is normally estimated at 280 days after the woman’s last menstruation.

“The emphasis of the lone due date makes the pregnancy’s term seem more reliable than it truly is,” said Jukic. Giving women a timeframe of dates is a more acceptable way to effectively communicate the pregnancy’s duration, said Jukic.

The duration of participants’ prior pregnancies was also closely tied to the duration of their current condition, indicating that this measurement may also assist with factoring a woman’s “natural” pregnancy duration, said researchers.

The research also concluded that tendencies of birthing early may give clues about due dates. Embryos that took longer to form also took longer to birth, and pregnancies with embryos that displayed a late increase in a hormone named progesterone were roughly 12 days less than those with an early increase.

However, a few experts disagreed with this research. Dr. Tomer Singer, an infertility specialist and reproductive endocrinologist from Lenox Hill Hospital at New York, claimed the research didn’t add to the information that was already known. While talking with expecting mothers, doctors agree that few expectants give birth on their actual due date, said Singer. He said that he informs mothers-to-be that they’re apt to give birth within 37 and 42 weeks their last menstruation (a range of five-weeks).

Additionally, the research was small. White, young women without fertility issues were the primary participants, so the findings may not be relevant to the population as a whole, said Singer. The research also took place 30 years ago, a time when there were less obstetric interventions to extend pregnancy were performed, said Singer.


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